Butt out of your car
‘‘ WHATEVER you do, just don’t smoke.’’ The advice didn’t help actor Yul Brynner, who sounded the warning after contracting a fatal cancer, but it could help you at trade-in time. Keeping tobacco smoke away from your car’s cabin is likely to add hundreds, even thousands, to its price— as well as preserving your health.
A friend of Carsguide emails this week to raise the question of smoking in cars, after an interesting encounter on his morning commute.
‘‘ I saw a woman in a brandnew BMW5 Series smoking her lungs out with all the windows up and pondered if this would affect resale. I reckon a non-smoker’s car must be worth more,’’ he says.
According to Rashad Parkar of Glass’s Guide, the authority on secondhand values: ‘‘ We believe that . . . cigarette marks or damaged upholstery due to smoking this will definitely have a detrimental impact on residual values.’’
The only serious study we can find on the subject is from San Diego in 2008. It says a smoker’s car would be worth up to 9 per cent less in the US.
Surprisingly, more than 20 per cent of cars for sale were owned by smokers or had been smoked in during the previous year. More than 90 per cent of non-smokers banned any sort of tobacco in their cars.
The study— funded by an anti-tobacco group so it needs to be put into context— lists more than 4000 chemicals in secondhand smoke and nicotine levels 30 times higher in smoker’s cars than tobacco- free examples. ‘‘ In the enclosed environments of passenger cars, air concentrations of tobacco smoke pollutants can become extremely high,’’ says Penelope Quintana, one of the study’s authors and a professor in the school of public health in San Diego State University.
Many of the pollutants attach to surfaces and accumulate in duster form where they can be released back into the air over days and weeks after smoking.
The changing attitude is also reflected in the way car companies look at smoking. These days, many cars do not have an ashtray and the cigarette lighter has become a power socket.
It’s a contrast to the days when Jaguar had identical chromed ash receptacles at three points in its XJ limousine, allowing the owner to rotate them until all three were choked and needing a full clean out.
A cigarette lighter in a BMW costs extra. And it’s been that way for years.
But power sockets are spreading faster than nicotine addiction and most cars have at least three, with the highest plug-in count we’ve discovered being six, in an American SUV. Cigarettes are on the way out but now we’re plugging in phone chargers and GPS systems daily, as well as rearseat entertainment and— once again, in the US— beverage warmers for the giant coffee containers that seem compulsory for commuters.
But we still have to ask whether we’re swapping one danger for another— by stubbing out the cigarette threat but plugging in giant distractions that can easily lead to more trouble than a slump in the secondhand price.
Tarred road: Anti-tobacco activists put 200,000 smokes to good use in
this protest vehicle